'My life is here': Migrant group calls for rights for undocumented young people

Undocumented children and young people in Ireland are growing up facing an uncertain future.

'My life is here': Migrant group calls for rights for undocumented young people

Undocumented children and young people in Ireland are growing up facing an uncertain future.

That is the message from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), who are calling on the government to create a clear pathway to residency.

It says almost 7 in 10 undocumented children are born here while 1 in 10 spend up to 10 years in Irish primary or secondary schools.

Spokesperson for MRCI, Mairéad McDevitt, says they should be looked at with just as much compassion as the undocumented Irish in the US.

"These children and young people do not have a pathway to residency whether they are born here or not," said Ms McDevitt.

"Every year our government goes over to the US and talks about the Irish undocumented in the US and what are they doing about it there.

"But here we have our own undocumented and we're not even talking about citizenship, we're talking about residency.

"It's just all in limbo at the moment."

The MRCI has carried out a survey with 108 parents of undocumented children.

Ms McDevitt said that the survey confirms that undocumented children and young people are here long term and spend their formative years in Ireland.

"Ireland is the home they know and love. These children and young people need stability, security and hope for the future," said Ms McDevitt.

"If there was a line they could join, they’d join it. If there was a form to fill out, they’d do it."

Rashmi, who is 24 and has lived in Dublin since she was 8 years old, said that being undocumented is holding her back "on so many levels".

Dublin is my home. My family is here, my friends are here, my life is here... I just want to be able to move forward and contribute in the way that I know I can.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said that undocumented young people are unable to fulfil their potential as every part of their life is impacted including education.

"Three years ago the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted this issue and urged Ireland to introduce clear and accessible pathways to immigration status for these children; action is now urgently required," said Ms Ward.

"These children need those solutions so that they can get on with living the full lives that they deserve."

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